I wasn't sure what to do for the fire challenge. It sounded so similar to the camping and outdoorsman challenge, which had also been complicated since we couldn't cook over an open fire in our small indoor apartment kitchen. That situation hadn't changed in the past few months, so I figured I was going to have to go with the spicy interpretation of "fire" (but how would that be any different from last year's spicy food challenge?). After doing some more searching through the recipe folder on my computer, I found the perfect "compromise" recipe - this escalivada recipe from Serious Eats. The recipe gave instructions for how to make this over smoldering coals, but also alternatively in an oven. A recipe that would qualify for fire but with an oven alternative? Perfect.
The ingredients for the escalivada were:
- 1 medium eggplant ($1.79)
- 1 red pepper ($0.99)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.50)
- olive oil to coat the vegetables, about 1/4 cup ($0.75)
- salt and pepper to coat the vegetables ($0.05)
- about 1/4 cup olive oil ($1.50)
- a few tsp sherry vinegar ($0.30)
- 1/2 batch of parsley, chopped ($0.90)
The total for the escalivada was approximately $6.78. We paired it with a few panko chicken tenders and a microwavable rice packet, so the total for the entire dinner was probably somewhere around $12 or $13. This made a big bowl of escalivada, but since they were really just roasted vegetables, we ate it all in one night.
The steps for making the escalivada were:
1. Wash and dry the eggplant and red pepper. Rub the eggplant, red pepper, and onion with olive oil and top with salt and pepper.
2. Create a separate foil packet for each of the 3 vegetables.
3. Bake vegetables at 350 degrees for 2 hours.
4. Remove vegetables from oven and open packets to allow vegetables to cool.
5. Remove the vegetables from the packets. Remove skins from the vegetables (as much as possible - in our case, some of the skin stubbornly stuck to the eggplant). Remove seeds from bell pepper. (The recipe said to do this for the eggplant too but the seeds were all mixed in with the flesh, and I would be throwing away too much if we threw away the seeds, so I left most of them in.)
6. Rough chop vegetables and put in a large bowl.
7. Chop parsley and add to vegetable bowl.
8. Mix vegetables together. Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and then add a couple tsp of sherry vinegar. Adjust flavors to taste.
The escalivada was really tasty, and it felt so good to eat something so healthy. It took a lot of time to put this together, mostly because of how long the vegetables had to roast, but it was pretty easy to do. No idea if the flavor would have been different roasting it over coals, but we were happy with how it turned out. We love eating healthy Mediterranean food and this was really good.